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The Montreal Screwjob
January 8, 2012 11:55 AM   Subscribe

The Montreal Screwjob (part 1, part 2, aftermath) - as remembered by Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels,and Vince McMahon (previously)
posted by Trurl (29 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cognoscenti consider the greatest contest between these two legends to have been their Iron Man match at Wrestlemania XII.
posted by Trurl at 12:04 PM on January 8, 2012


So, did Bret Hart secretly know the double-cross was coming, or was this the real deal?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:15 PM on January 8, 2012


Um, they're entertainers, more akin to actors than sportsmen, right? So there's no real competition on that level between them. Its about status, respect and ego, not athleticism, excellence or ethics. Isn't it?
posted by dash_slot- at 12:25 PM on January 8, 2012


So there's no real competition on that level between them. Its about status, respect and ego, not athleticism, excellence or ethics. Isn't it?

Ethics is a part of everything. The endings are choreographed, yeah, but Hart was retiring and didn't want to lose his title belt in his native Canada for his final match. So yes, status, respect, and ego.
posted by Roman Graves at 12:29 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing that documentary on TV when it first was released. Very intense. I simultaneously wanted to reach through the screen and slap McMahon silly, and sit back and admire him for his willingness to play the villain if it meant higher ratings.
posted by mannequito at 12:30 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll bet there was a nice chunk of the audience who didn't take offence to Shawn Michaels picking his nose with the Canadian flag. Thanks for the perfect Sunday afternoon post.
posted by gman at 12:33 PM on January 8, 2012


The Ewing Theory's take on Bret Hart's departure to the WCW (following this event).

World Wrestling Federation, 1997: Then-WWF champ Bret "Hitman" Hart signs a contract with Ted Turner's WCW federation (No. 1 in the TV ratings battle at the time). Aided by publicity from a real-life, backstage fight between Hart and WWF owner Vince McMahon after Hart's final match, the WWF rebounds in the Post-Hart Era and regains its No. 1 status within a year. Ironically, Hart's departure is considered the crucial turning point, because it gave birth to McMahon's new "bad guy" status and paved the way for the WWF to promote fresh stars like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Even in fake sports, the Ewing Theory is indomitable.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 12:35 PM on January 8, 2012


Scripted ending to a match in a scripted "sport" is re-scripted.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:36 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scripted ending to a match in a scripted "sport" is re-scripted.

Eh. Stars rise and fall in wrestling in a way that's loosely correlated with their fame and success with the fanbase, or potential for success, as I understand it. It's kind of like if you and everyone else were given the impression that they would be announcing your promotion to executive VP at the company annual general meeting, but at the last second they fucked you and promoted your bitter rival instead. Scripted, sure, in that someone knew what was going to happen, but it's not really a relevant description.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:46 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wasn't Hart the guy whose son was killed in the ring?
posted by jrochest at 1:09 PM on January 8, 2012


That was his little brother, Owen.
posted by Roman Graves at 1:12 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


His little brother, but yeah.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:13 PM on January 8, 2012


So, did Bret Hart secretly know the double-cross was coming, or was this the real deal?

It was the real deal, which is why it's so infamous. Hart didn't speak to McMahon (who had been a family friend before this) for more than a decade.
posted by mightygodking at 1:14 PM on January 8, 2012


The screw job always reminds me of that movie where Joe Pesci goes to this mafia meeting thinking he is going to get made, but instead they shoot him.

For me the demise of Bret Harte was concurrent with the demise of pro wrestling. His book "Hit Man" is probably the best book about professional sports there is, was, or ever will be.
posted by charlesminus at 1:35 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty extensive Wikipedia article considering the subject is professional wrestling.
posted by tommasz at 1:44 PM on January 8, 2012


Would it be trolling to drop a {{Notability|Sports|date=January 2012}} tag in that Wikipedia article?
posted by Nelson at 2:04 PM on January 8, 2012


not athleticism, excellence or ethics

The ethics thing has been mentioned above, and as far as anyone knows, Hart had no knowledge of the change in plans. As for acting, I don't think Hart would be able to pull it off for this long if it wasn't 'real.'

As for the athleticism, or excellence, I know that not everyone likes wrestling. Some people even claim it's fake!* But saying there's no athleticism involved is tantamount to admitting you haven't seen a match in, say, the last fifteen years (or you watch TNA, which is you're own damn fault). The raw athleticism in pretty much any match on any given Monday night** is amazing to see, so much so that it's sort of become mundane, watching a guy jumping forward from the top rope into a reverse summersault onto the guy below him.

For another take on the Screwjob, check out The Masked Man's take on the DVD. Or, for wrestling in general, check out any of his stuff, either on Grantland or his Dead Wrestler of the Week series on Deadspin.

* No, really, we get it. We know it's fake. Seriously, you don't get any points for making us aware of it. Again.

** As long as said matches don't involve the Big Show, Mark Henry, Kane, or the Undertaker.

posted by Ghidorah at 2:57 PM on January 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


The endings are choreographed, yeah, but Hart was retiring and didn't want to lose his title belt in his native Canada for his final match. So yes, status, respect, and ego.


Quick factual correction: Hart wasn't retiring, he was leaving the WWF for their main competitor, WCW (World Championship Wrestling), more or less against his will. The WWF, approximately a year earlier, had signed Hart to a 20-year contract, which they decided to breach shortly before this match took place since they determined they couldn't afford to honor it.

But your overall point is correct - Hart and Shawn Michaels had some serious behind the scenes (read: not scripted) issues with one another which made losing to Michaels, in particular, in his final WWF match in front of his native fans something Hart was not agreeable to at all.
posted by The Gooch at 4:22 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


As the Gooch says, Hart and Michaels had a pretty intense dislike for each other. The Masked Man article goes into it a bit more, but essentially, Michaels was being embraced as a fan favorite, even though Hart thought his behavior was unbecoming of a wrestler. The Attitude Era was starting, and Hart never fit in with the raunchiness of it, while Michaels (who's since become a devout born again Christian) was perfect for it. Essentially, the screw job was the end of the say your prayers black and white moralistic WWF where good guys were good people. Hart's character at the time was a Canadian nationalist who talked about virtue and morality, and he lost to a guy who (later on, right) would be famous for thrusting his crotch at the crowd screaming "suck it."
posted by Ghidorah at 4:38 PM on January 8, 2012


For another take on the Screwjob, check out The Masked Man's take on the DVD

That is the best article on professional wrestling I've ever read.

Had I found it, I would have made that the FPP and put the rest below the fold.
posted by Trurl at 4:41 PM on January 8, 2012


The screw job always reminds me of that movie where Joe Pesci goes to this mafia meeting thinking he is going to get made, but instead they shoot him.

That movie
posted by no regrets, coyote at 4:44 PM on January 8, 2012


Trurl, if you liked that, you really should read the rest of his stuff. His Dead Wrestler series (which has been talked about on the blue before) was easily the only thing worth reading on Deadspin. With each wreslter's obituary, he talked about not only the person an their character, but also their cultural impact. On Grantland, he's freed from the dead wrestler gimmick, and able to write about current events. His take on the CM Punk thing this summer was pretty amazing too.

For a more weekly recap of Raw, I read Best and Worst of Raw on With Leather. The format is annoying, but it's interesting reading a column put out by a huge fan as he's starting to get noticed for his writing just as he's seemingly starting to question if it's worth doing. Aside from the humor in his writing, his blatant disappointment in wasted opportunities and poor scripting make it a pretty solid weekly read.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:56 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a just leave this here: from Saint's Row The Third
posted by juv3nal at 4:56 PM on January 8, 2012


For another take on the Screwjob, check out The Masked Man's take on the DVD

That is the best article on professional wrestling I've ever read.

Had I found it, I would have made that the FPP and put the rest below the fold.


My only complaint about the Grantland article is that the author very clearly came into the piece falling strongly in the "Bret Hart takes his wrestling character way too seriously" camp, which I felt tainted his analysis.
posted by The Gooch at 4:57 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


(or you watch TNA, which is you're own damn fault)

Aw, the problem with TNA isn't "lack of athleticism" so much as it is "every single other thing ever."
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 5:00 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you need more evidence that nothing at the end of that match was scripted, I submit this episode. Years later when post-stroke Brett came back to the WWE for a victory lap of sorts, Vince welcomed him back by having one of his current giants hold Brett's arms behind his back in the middle of the ring while Vince spat in Brett's face. This one I'm sure was scripted, though that just makes me realize what a bad actor I would be, because I'm not sure I could read that script and agree to take the spit to the face.
posted by jermsplan at 9:38 PM on January 8, 2012


The "South will rise again" event has been postponed until next year.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 11:13 PM on January 8, 2012


Best and Worst of Raw on With Leather

While I don't always agree with the analysis--he has a lot less patience for goofy shit than I do--I look forward to this every week. There are always a few real gems that get right to the point of why I love (and hate) the WWE product.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:44 AM on January 9, 2012


I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I'm repeatedly astounded when I visit professional wrestling related Wikipedia pages. They're some of, if not the most, detailed entries about anything on the site.
posted by brand-gnu at 6:59 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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